The trip starts today in Kathmandu, the busy, colourful and chaotic capital city of Nepal.
Your Leader plans to meet everyone in the hotel reception for a welcome meeting at 5 pm. For those that wish, there is the chance to go out together as a group for dinner afterwards. There are no other activities planned for today. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your leader will leave any essential information and details of the best time to catch up with them, at the hotel reception.
If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM). You should allow at least 45 minutes to reach our hotel in central Kathmandu as traffic congestion in city can be bad.
Depending on the arrival time of your flight, should you wish to explore, our hotel is located a short walk from the lively Thamel area. Home to a multitude of outdoor gear, souvenir shops, great bookshops and a huge variety of restaurants, it's a fun place to wander.
After breakfast there will be a trek briefing by your tour leader to let you know the programme for the next few days, to make sure everyone is properly equipped for the trek and to give you an idea of what to expect on a day to day basis. We have then arranged a walking tour, visiting the bazaar and the Durbar Square area, the centre of old Kathmandu. Much of the day to day life of Kathmandu takes place in the bazaar: a fascinating mixture of people selling fruit, vegetables and spices, devotees visiting their favourite gods at temples and small shrines dotted along the sides of alleyways, rickshaw wallahs honking their horns and the ever present sacred cow wandering amongst it all.
Leaving the capital today we drive to Pokhara. The drive will take us much of the day but there is plenty to see as the landscape changes and the Annapurna range comes in to view.
Today we leave Pokhara and drive via Nayapul to Kiwl village where we begin our trek. Today's walk follows a stone pathway, and for the most time we are climbing roughly hewn steps - it can be tough on the knees so bring walking poles. Our base for tonight is the small settlement of Ghandruk.
Today's four-and-half kilometre walk is expected to take around three hours with a total ascent of 920 metres and a descent of 280 metres.
Today we start with an ascent before dropping down to cross the Kimrong Khola by bridge, before making a short ascent to Taulung. We then begin the long steep ascent to join the main trail to Chhomrong. The high point above the main valley is a favourite place for soaring vultures, griffons and lammergeiers, providing us with some awesome vistas as we begin the descent to Chommrong (2060m), the last major settlement before the Sanctuary and an attractive place for us to end the day amidst its alpine lodges and scenic views.
Today's 12 kilometre walk is expected to take around six hours with a total ascent of 810 metres and a descent of 670 metres.
Descending to cross the Chhomrong Khola River by suspension bridge, we enjoy some excellent views of Machhapuchhre today (now exhibiting its distinctive 'fishtail' profile) and Annapurna South. We continue to climb steeply, negotiating a trail that leads us through oak and rhododendron forests until we reach a welcome teahouse on top of the ridge at Sinuwa (2350m). The ascent to Kuldigarth (2470m) is then more gradual, continuing through more lush forest to our lunch stop at the Bamboo Hotel (2340m). This afternoon we continue our ascent towards Dovan, beyond which lies the unofficial gateway into the Sanctuary, walking through wet bamboo forest to reach our accommodation later this afternoon.
Today's 10 kilometre walk is expected to take around seven hours with a total ascent of 1060 metres and a descent of 620 metres.
This morning the track continues up past the so-called 'weeping wall' and the shrine of the 'God of the Jungle', to the Himalaya Hotel (2840m). Passing several spectacular waterfalls which cascade down the opposite side of the Modi Khola, we climb through bamboo forest to reach Hinku Cave at 3100m. We ascend further until we reach the small settlement of Deurali where we will spend the night.
Today's five kilometre walk is expected to take around three and a half hours with a total ascent of 760 metres and a descent of 80 metres.
Today we climb further to pass between Machhapuchhre and Huinchuli - the 'Gates' into the Sanctuary. Climbing over rocky moraine we arrive at Machhapuchhre Base Camp (3720m). Overshadowed by Annapurna South and the beautiful shape of Machhapuchhre (machha, fish' and puchhre, 'tail'), one of Nepal's holy mountains, this is a quite awe-inspiring setting in which to end our day's trekking, the mountain landscapes providing us with a sight to raise the spirits of even the most tired amongst us.
Today's five kilometre walk is expected to take around three and a half hours with a total ascent of 540 metres and a descent of 40 metres.
We spend the day enjoying the views within the very heart of the sanctuary. Having made a 'crack of dawn' start to get the best of the day, we follow part of the route taken by British mountaineer Chris Bonnington on the 1970 Annapurna south face expedition. Following west along a moraine to the north of Hiunchuli, we reach several stone buildings at 4130m and then ascend to a spectacular viewpoint. Here we have amazing views of the peaks encircling us including close up views of the south face of Annapurna I which towers over the Sanctuary and also of Annapurna South glacier. We will have time to enjoy this special mountain panorama, to sit amongst the edelweiss and watch the ice carving its way from the glacier, before descending back to Machhapuchhre Base Camp.
Today's five kilometre walk is expected to take around three and a half hours with a total ascent of 430 metres and a descent of 430 metres.
We begin our descent today as we head for Bamboo (2340m), passing through the bamboo forest and crossing a number of rocky avalanche chutes. Approximately 6 hours walking.
Today's 12 kilometre walk is expected to take around six hours with a total ascent of 140 metres and a descent of 1550 metres.
Descending through rhododendron forest full of noisy birds - mostly black-capped Sibia, we then cross the Chhomrong Khola and climb up to Chhomrong village (2060m) where we take a rest break. We then climb for a short while before descending to Jhinnu Danda, our home for the night.
Today's 12 kilometre walk is expected to take around six hours with a total ascent of 690 metres and a descent of 1230 metres.
There is an optional walk to Hot spring which will approximately take 45 minutes.
Our final day in the mountains sees us making a short trek to Marque from where we'll take local jeeps to Siwai. A bus will meet us here for the two-and-a-half hour journey back to Pokhara where a hot shower and perhaps a well-earned cold beer await us.
Today's three kilometre walk is expected to take around two hours with a total ascent of 380 metres and a descent of 180 metres.
Pokhara is smaller and more relaxed than Kathmandu and is beautifully situated on the banks of Phewa Tal (lake). Only foothills separate the town from the high mountains and there are superb views of the snowcapped Annapurna range, including Machhapuchhre - the famous 'Fishtail' mountain. Our day here is free to relax after the trek. There is the option to take a small boat across the lake and walk to the Japanese Peace Pagoda or simply relax in one of the lakeside cafe gardens after exploring the many souvenir shops.
Today we drive back to Kathmandu. The drive takes around 6 hours, however along the way we are rewarded with views of the Himalaya.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Kathmandu.
There are no activities planned for today, so you are free to depart at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to depart from Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM).